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From The Blog
October 19, 2017
Set Sail with Danelle Harmon’s Heir to the Sea
Wendy the Super Librarian
October 19, 2017
How to Review Romance for the Inexperienced (and Indifferent) Critic
Robin Lovett
October 18, 2017
Life Is a Cosmic Cabaret
Veronica Scott Author
October 18, 2017
Hit the Road in Ruthie Knox's Completely
Janet Webb
October 18, 2017
8 Spooky Historical Houses for Your Halloween
Jessica Avery
Showing posts by: Jessica Avery click to see Jessica Avery's profile
Wed
Oct 18 2017 9:30am

Enter if You Dare: 8 Spooky Historical Houses for Your Halloween

Source: Shutterstock

It’s that ghostly time of year again, bats and ghouls!

The air is crisp (at least up here in New England), the days are shorter, and everything is just a little spookier. Even my romance reads. This is the time of year when I get a craving for haunted houses; big, crumbling, rambling piles in bleak, isolated locations that are probably haunted by someone’s dead (or crazy) (or both) wife. Wives in the attic, ghosts on the stair—there’s just nothing that can compete with a haunted house when it comes to kicking off the Halloween season.

The romance version of the “Super Spooky Gothic House” (that’s a very official academic term as you can tell) is rather recognizable once you’ve encountered it for the first time. It’s most often found in those novels that are, while still part of the romance genre, drawn more from the Gothic novel than the domestic novel of manners. And one of the motifs of the Gothic novel that pseudo-Gothic romance novels pick up on frequently is The House. As with many Gothic novels, pseudo-Gothic romances often feature a hugely significant house, much like the rambling piles referenced above. I say “hugely significant” as, in the pseudo-Gothic romance as in the Gothic novel, the house is almost a character in and of itself.

[It's spooky!...]

Wed
May 17 2017 1:30pm

The Song is Sung: What is the Future of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series?

So, chances are if you're reading this post you've probably finished Feversong, but just in case: SPOILERS! DEAD AHEAD!

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

Still with me Fever Fans?

It’s been a wild ride since release day! Feversong roared onto bookshelves everywhere and I for one was knocked clean off my feet.

The newest arrival in the Fever Universe, Feversong artfully wrapped up the series’ bigger storylines. Not only those that began with the arrival of the Hoar Frost King in Iced but even those that began further back with the original five books, such as Cruce being locked in his cell below the abbey, and the mirror image of the Sinsar Dubh buried deep inside Mac’s mind.

But as fans of the series might be aware, though the actual “Fever Series” ended with Feversong, KMM has apparently signed for two more books (!!!) set in the greater Fever Universe. Which is awesome because there’s still so much in this expansive universe left to explore! Including a number of loose ends that KMM didn’t clean up in Feversong.

ONE of the two future books is already spoken for, so to speak. KMM has announced that the next book, High Voltage, will be a Dani book! According to a very mysterious facebook post, High Voltage won’t pick up where we left off at the end of Feversong. Instead KMM has promised us a book that starts at a “different time”... *flail of frustration and anticipation*

[Read more...]

Thu
Apr 13 2017 3:00pm

5 Fascinating Things I Learned from Jane Austen’s England

Jane Austen's England by Roy and Lesley Adkins

Husband and wife team Roy and Lesley Adkins’ Jane Austen’s England is a delightful, fascinating work of non-fiction that will capture the attention of even the most reluctant history readers. And I would know, as the non-fiction section of my library is remarkable only in its brevity.

Unwilling to bury their readers in a dry, lengthy catalog of events, names, and details, the Adkins’ instead build a narrative of daily life during Austen’s lifetime via the inclusion of primary sources: the diaries and letters of several figures from all walks of life.

Structured in twelve chapters the book proceeds from marriage through death and traverses several subjects in between.

Though absolutely brimming with fascinating facts (and potential novel ideas for you writers out there) I’ve picked out the five that really captured my attention:

1. Marriages in puris naturalibus

Oh this is a good one. At first I was horrified, and then I laughed and laughed and laughed… In the late Georgian era it was a practice (though how common a one I cannot say) for a widow whose husband who had left her with debts and, who intended to remarry, to go to her new wedding en chemise—because if she “brought no clothes or property to the union, the husband-to-be was thought not liable for any debts she might have.” It’s all a bit drafty if you ask me.

However, what makes this odder is that in some corners it was wrongly believed that a “smock wedding” also had the means of enabling a bride to retain her own property when entering the marriage—so it couldn’t be seized if her new husband had debts. But only if she went to her wedding in puris naturalibus. Stark. Naked. ($20 says a man invented that erroneous add-on to the already questionable smock marriage…)

[Read more...]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 11:00am

The “Real” Mr. Darcy: It Was Never About the Face

Pride and Prejudice

Back in February of this year (2017) the New York Times ran an article in response to a study on the real!Mr. Darcy, commissioned by Britain’s UKTV. The original study was carried out by John Sutherland (Prof. Emeritus of Modern English Language at the University College London) and Amanda Vickery (Prof. of Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London), along with beautiful illustrations of the real!Mr. Darcy by artist Nick Hardcastle. The purpose of this study was to give Darcy fans of both the book and the many film adaptations a chance to compare the modern vision of Mr. Darcy they are accustomed to seeing - based on modern ideals of masculinity - and the Mr. Darcy who would have been closer to Austen’s original vision, based on the masculine ideal of the 18th century.

However, while Sutherland and Vickery’s original study was a respectful, academic work calling attention to this difference in a fairly neutral fashion, not all of the response articles which followed were as moderate in tone.

On the surface Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura’s piece for the New York Times, “Mr. Darcy You’re No Colin Firth,” seems to blend in with the range of pieces from The Guardian, The Smithsonian, et. al. But while the foremost part of her article follows the mold of the others, recapping the Sutherland/Vickery study with a small amount of additional commentary, it is Freytas-Tamura’s snide tone and her use of select sarcastic phrases that have raised objection from certain corners. The distinct impression she leaves the reader with is one of communal disdain, inviting them to share in her view of Mr. Darcy’s many fans. Look at these silly, obsessed women - she seems to say—losing their minds over this blow to their “adoration of English literature’s most eligible bachelor”, but you and me *wink wink nudge* we know how foolish and shallow they are.

[Oh Mr. Darcy!]

Mon
Jan 30 2017 12:15pm

First Look: Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Pact (January 31, 2017)

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

Alison Goodman
The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen Series #2)
Viking / January 31, 2017 / $18.99 print, $10.99 digital

If you thought you loved the Lady Helen novels after their premiere with The Dark Days Club last year, brace yourselves friends. Because love is about to become obsession.

The Dark Days Pact is everything that the increasing tension in The Dark Days Club promised us the sequel would be: an intense, terrifying, thrilling rush of romance and battle, blood and beating hearts, enemies and lovers. Darker, faster, at times absolutely hair-raising, this book is the critical moment at the height of a trilogy when the risks have never been greater and the rewards seem fewer and farther between.

In The Dark Days Pact we return to heroine and reluctant reclaimer Helen, who is living in seclusion in Brighton with Lady Margaret and Mr. Hammond after being discarded by her uncle at the end of the first book. (Following that amazing kiss on the floor of her bedroom with Carlston where she saved his life after the deceiver attack that killed the horrible Benchley.) Her potential betrothal to the Duke of Selburn (Looooove him) has imploded following the scandal, she is estranged from her family, surrounded by a frightening new reality—but, well, at least Brighton is quieter than London! Unfortunately, while life in Brighton may move at a more sedate pace, Helen’s life has not exactly quieted down.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jan 25 2017 2:00pm

Reading Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers: The Importance of Female Friendship in Secrets of a Summer Night

Lisa Kleypas Wallflower Reread

In a delightful journey that began with Secrets of a Summer Night in 2004, we accompanied the Wallflowers—young society misses Annabelle, Lillian, Evangeline, and Daisy—as they banded together in a hunt for husbands that led to love and matrimony...if not always in that order.

But if we thought we’d seen the last of our beloved friends, we were (happily) wrong: Lisa Kleypas has announced the Wallflowers will return in her next historical romance, Devil in Spring with the story of Evangeline and Sebastian’s son!

In anticipation of Devil in Spring’s release on February 21, we’ve decided to do what any romance reader would: Revisit the books that started it all! And so, every week for the next four weeks, we invite you to join us in reading—whether for the first time or the fiftieth!—and discussing the first four Wallflower romances: Secrets of a Summer Night, It Happened One Autumn, Devil in Winter, and Scandal in Spring.

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

This was my first time reading Secrets of a Summer Night, I confess! I have read the latter two Wallflower books, but have not had time until now for the former two, nor for the Christmas novel. Shame on me! But in a way I am not sorry because now I get to write about this book after having read it for the very first time, when all the excitement and emotions are fresh in my mind.

That being said, it seems impossible to begin a series of essays about Lisa Kleypas’ beloved Wallflowers series without devoting the first to that element of the series which makes it invaluable to so many readers. No, though handsome, powerful, and devoted it is not Kleypas’ heroes. Nor is it her quick, determined, brave heroines… or at least not all on their own.

It is the friendship between the four “wallflowers”—Annabelle, Lillian, Evie, and Daisy—which makes the series a keeper on many shelves.

Female friendships were rare for the longest time in the romance genre. Female characters other than the heroine were the opposition! The enemy, the threat of the “ex”, the threat of the “better woman”—the dreaded “other woman.” Or else she is a matron/mother/aunt/otherwise fearful elder woman, meant to either hinder or assist the heroine in some way along her journey. So even these women are either evil queens or fairy godmothers, but seldom are they real friends.

For years our heroines—and we, as readers!—were positively hungry for true, solid friendships with women of their own age. And that is what Lisa Kleypas provided with the Wallflowers. Four young women in need of husbands but in greater need of friends, who bond together to throw off the rules of society that turn them into outliers instead of romantic contenders.

[Determined heroine ahead...]

Thu
Jan 19 2017 2:30pm

Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong SPOILER THREAD!! (MAJOR SPOILERS)

 

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

Here you have it: It's FINALLY HERE! A complete play-by-play of all of the events in Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong, out today. This post is made up ENTIRELY of SPOILERS and is intended only as a place for fans to gather and discuss the book AFTER reading it, so if you have yet to finish, steer clear of anything after the jump. Go finish the book, then come back. 

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW THE JUMP.

SPOILERS SO MAJOR THEY WILL RUIN THE BOOK FOR YOU IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

***LAST CHANCE: Seriously, leave this post now if you haven’t finished Feversong.  This is a post to discuss the entire book. 

ARE YOU READY? Are you? Because this - THIS was intense.

So let’s do this. A complete play-by-play of Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong, the ninth and final book in her Fever series, released January 17th 2017. This post is a screaming, raving mass of SPOILERS and mashed feelings below the jump so if you haven’t finished the book yet, TURN BACK!

I’M WARNING YOU.

SERIOUSLY DUDES.

DANGER AHEAD.

*** Alright you’ve been warned so let’s do this! This is your last chance to leave because if you haven’t read Feversong yet and you keep reading below you’re gonna be sooooorry. No? Alright? Suit yourself! ***

Here is your super, mega-certified, awesome list of EPIC things that went down!! (Or most of them! I had to leave out some of the small ones as this epic list was getting epically long!)

[Spoilers Ahoy!]

Mon
Dec 12 2016 10:30am

One Last Battle to Go: What’s Going to Happen in Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong?

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

A long-awaited conclusion, and a dreaded goodbye for loving readers.

ALERT: Hold it right there! Don’t scroll a single line further if you aren’t caught up on Karen Marie Moning’s “Fever” Series. Because: Here There Be Spoilers… and unrepentant fangirling.

Okay folks! This is it.

At last, after a long and wild ride, our time in Dublin is coming to an end. And if you are ready for the end then you are in a far better place than me emotionally. Because I am still trying to recover from the heartbreaking, exhilarating whirlwind that was last year’s Feverborn.

A quick catch up...

But there's no stopping Feversong, so while we wait for January let’s take a stroll though the Temple Bar, and reminisce.

KMM’s Fever universe started with the original five book series: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever (aka the book of pain and suffering) and Shadowfever (aka the book of pain and suffering, part 2). 

Book 1, Darkfever, introduce us to heroine-in-the-making Mackayla Lane at one of the darkest moments of her life: the death of her sister Alina. Angry and grieving Mac packs her bags and leaves home for Dublin determined to find her sister’s killer. Enter one shadowy, dangerous, and drop-dead-sinfully-sexy Jericho Barrons; more horrifying monsters than you can shake a stick at; and an insidious plot to end the world and, well, the rest is history. 

[Read more...]

Fri
Nov 18 2016 10:30am

First Look: Sabrina Jeffries’ The Danger of Desire (November 22, 2016)

The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries

Sabrina Jeffries
The Danger of Desire (The Sinful Suitors #3)
Pocket Books / November 22, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

If you are a fan of historical romances, or socially conscious romances, and if you pull double back handsprings just thinking about the two of those things worked together into one novel, then you need to be reading The Danger of Desire.

With the same aplomb with which she tackled complicated but vital themes in the first two books of her Sinful Suitors series, Sabrina Jeffries has brought it home again with this newest addition. This book is a must-read, with enough humor and heart to leave you vaulting between tears and laughter.

In The Danger of Desire, Sabrina Jeffries gives her readers the long-awaited story (for me anyway - oh gosh I couldn’t wait for his book) of Warren, Marquess of Knightford and friend to Jeremy and Edwin - AKA the first two Sinful Suitors. Like his friends Warren is a charming mix of vaguely disreputable rogue and warm, loving protector. He falls somewhere between Alpha and Beta, with the best traits of both worlds. 

[Read more...]

Tue
Nov 8 2016 1:00pm

A Ladies’ Guide to the Dangers of Riding in Carriages

 Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

A Cautionary Guide by a Concerned Party

Dear Readers, it can be a clever and a dangerous game, riding in carriages. We have all heard the stories: Abductions! Entrapments! Elopements! One shudders to think. But if you are to protect yourselves, and play this game, you must first become familiar with the pieces on the board. So I have described below, three familiar forms of transportation. Ladies, read on! And fortify yourself against the dangers of these sometimes perfidious conveyances: 

THE CURRICLE

Technically the curricle has only two wheels, which makes it a buggy, and not a carriage. It is a small vehicle, towed by one or two horses, with a single bench seat that faces forward and can seat at most two people. And a curricle, unlike a coach, is open to the air, with a canopy which can be raised or lowered depending upon the weather...or the number of prying eyes. We have heard it said among the fashionable set that a curricle can hardly be considered scandalous as it is so open to the world. Not so! Ladies, I entreat you to remember the eventful courtship of the Marquess of Dain and Miss Jessica Trent (Lord of Scoundrels), which kept the scandal sheets of London well supplied! A curricle is, as I have suggested, small for two people, least of all one as large as the Marquess (fetch your minds from the gutters, ladies!). No wonder, then, that a certain Miss Trent ended up seated on his lap as they shared an intimate embrace. So be on your guard! The size of the curricle, it seems, is not an impediment, but an invitation to seduction; and a curricle may not be privacy itself, but it can be parked in a private place! Choose your riding partners, and your locations, carefully!

[Read more...]